Is the HR profession getting better or worse?

Linkedin HRAre you Linkedin? Would linking-in to a Linkedin HR group make you a better HR professional? Peer pressure can be insidious and when Linkedin first appeared on the scene I was not sure whether I wanted any part of it.  All of a sudden I was being forced to decide whether to connect with someone or not.  This might be part of the new ‘social media’ revolution but it is a strange social interaction when all I have to go on is a brief profile from someone I have never met before.  How very odd it would be in normal, face-to-face, human interaction to walk up to someone out of the blue and say ‘connect with me’.  I’m very particular about whom I mix with professionally; I only want to mix with the best.

Having just got used to being ‘connected’ I now find people I hardly know endorsing my work.  I don’t mean to be unfriendly or anti-social, and I am always genuinely grateful for client recommendations, but it strikes me that Linkedin is probably not the best place to discriminate effectively between the good, the bad and the ugly of HR practices. So I decided it was time to do some of my own, objective research* into the calibre of HR professionals you might connect with on Linkedin HR Groups.

On Monday 8th April 2013 I joined 10 Linkedin HR Groups for the first time (with a combined, international membership of 478,021) and posed this question:

“Is the HR profession getting better or worse?”

I don’t know how many clicked on my question (that would have been an interesting indicator in itself) but the number of respondents amounted to the grand sum of 26: that’s precisely 0.00543% of the Linkedin HR population I chose.  This cannot be taken as a representative sample of the ‘HR profession’ at large but one thing is for sure, my serious question does not appear to be keeping many of my ‘professional’ colleagues awake at night.  For all I know I might have awoken only a very strange minority from the entire HR spectrum.  Fortunately, the respondents seem to take their professionalism as seriously as I do and their comments were constructive: I am happy to be in their professional company.  One very obvious fact stood out though – no one had a definitive way of answering my valid question and a ‘profession’ that is not regularly monitoring whether its members are getting better or not is not much of a profession.

If we posed the same question to the medical profession (is it getting better or worse?) on, say, the British Journal of Medical Practitioners Linkedin Group site, I would expect the respondents to start quoting clear evidence (e.g. falling cancer rates, faster treatment times, better patient outcomes) but not a single HR correspondent offered any evidence at all.  This has to be set against the growing mountain of evidence that HR did nothing to stop banks crashing, pharmaceutical drug pipelines drying up, corrupt management practices proliferating and executives being rewarded for failure.  On that evidence alone there is a significant credibility problem for HR professionals but enormous, and highly valuable, room for improvement.

For any profession to be credible it has to follow a set of commonly agreed principles.  I cannot find any such principles on any Linkedin HR group.  That is why IHRM exists.  We follow just one, over-arching, guiding principle from which everything else flows – value.  If HR professionals cannot show clear evidence of their value they will continue to have no perceived value.   Only then can we: –

  • Agree the criteria required to become a fully accredited, HR professional. Not a single person among the 478,021 Linkedin members could hold up such a qualification today.
  • Produce some meaningful baselines of how we are doing (e.g. how many of your latest recruits are performing to standard? How much of your training is resulting in improved business performance? How many of your managers are managing effectively?)
  • Design a professional development, improvement process to bring the HR profession up to the required standard
  • Act against those who are getting it wrong, or getting worse, and start reducing the 478,021 down to a core, Professional HR group whose advice can be trusted.

If you want to linkin with other HR professionals who are at least asking the right questions then join us here.  You will be warmly welcomed and, over time, professionally endorsed if you continuously improve your professionalism through the adoption of meaningful, evidence-based practice. We are not interested in the number of members we have, only the rare qualities they possess.  We have exacting standards and will positively discriminate against anyone not reaching those standards.  We believe that is the only way to connect with the very best HR professionals around the world today.

* For the full analysis from this research please click here

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